Interoperable Positive Train Control

There has been substantial interest in developing an interoperable communication-based train-control system (TCS) for decades. The initial effort started almost 25 years ago with the advanced TCS (ATCS) efforts. This was an industry-driven effort to define a new form of train control. Unfortunately, it relied on large, central, computing-based systems which have proven impractical for train control. However, some good work came out of this effort in terms of an addressing scheme that allows unique identification of every piece of equipment (e.g., switch or signal) in the country. A communication datagram structure also came out of this project that has been widely used in the industry. Since the demise of ATCS, the systems for freight railroads have been generally called positive train-control (PTC) systems. Recently, the congress passed the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, mandating that railroads install PTC systems and add the requirement that all switches be monitored. This article discusses PTC architectures and provides relevant background on rail safety and how train control has evolved.


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  • Accession Number: 01146406
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Dec 10 2009 3:36PM